Legal & General (LGEN) rises 3.1% to 203.5p, bucking the FTSE 100's 13.7 point retreat to 6606 points, after reporting good half-year results and a 22% dividend hike to 2.4p, ahead of the 16% advance anticipated by consensus. The £11.6 billion cap life insurer's strong operational cash generation underpins the payout, up 14% to £537 million for the half with taxable profits up 13% to £592 million. Annuity sales were a key driver, increasing 142% year-on-year to £1.4 billion, while Legal & General also reports 21% growth in its international assets under management to £52 billion and issues an upbeat outlook statement.
Emerging markets-focused bank Standard Chartered (STAN) skips 3.6% higher to £15.79 despite profits dropping in the first six months of the year. The bank made £3.3 billion profit before tax, down 16% year-on-year, although profits would have increased 4% but for a $1 billion write-down in its Korean business due to rising bad debts.
Another of Tuesday's major movers is valve control specialist Rotork (ROR). It gains 7.8% to £29.11 after posting a 12% increase in first-half pre-tax profit to £69.4 million, with the support of acquisitions and higher margins. A concurrent 9.4% rise in order intake leads management to guide towards continued progress in the remainder of 2013.
Car dealer Pendragon (PDG) motors 4.3% higher to 30.25p on strong interim results showing pre-tax profits 24% ahead at £23.6 million and net debt pared by a third to £147.3 million, both ahead of analysts' expectations. The £417 million cap is benefiting from a resurgent new car market and claims to be outperforming in the used car market too.
Weather-sensitive bakery retailer Greggs (GRG) feels the heat this morning, with shares 7.2% softer at 410p on weaker-than-expected half-year figures and further downgrades triggered by the July heatwave. However new chief executive Roger Whiteside has used the interim statement to outline strategic changes to reshape the business and revive growth, as we discuss here.
Audio chip maker Wolfson Microelectronics (WLF) nudges up 2.5p to 158.5p despite analysts at finnCap turning bearish on the stock. finnCap's Lorne Daniel cut his target price from 150p to 120p as de-stocking by major customers continues to trouble the Edinburgh-based firm, although Daniel does admit to liking Wolfson's longer-term potential, a view Shares underlined in April.
Abu Dhabi-based private healthcare company Al Noor Hospitals (ANH) improves 2.4% to 727.2p after reassuring it is on target to achieve full-year expectations. In the six months to July, sales rose 10.9% year-on-year to US$179.5 million (£117 million), while the company hired 45 revenue-generating doctors. However pre-tax profits fell to US$24.8 million from US$32.8 million.
New Britain Palm Oil (NBPO) cultivates a 10p gain to 467.5p as half-year profits disappointment is already in the price and investors bet the sustainable palm oil producer's profits may have bottomed. For the six months to June, taxable profits slumped to $14.1 million (2012: $63.6 million) as a result of lower average selling prices for Crude Palm Oil (CPO) and Palm Kernel Oil (PKO), as well as the impact of heavy rainfall on production and adverse exchange rate movements. However, the market is now looking forward to a return to normal production for the Papua New Guinea-headquartered company, well placed to profit from strong demand for high grade palm oil products, particularly from emerging markets.
A slow start to the year sees construction products provider and safety barriers maker Hill & Smith (HILS) post a 17% year-on-year fall in interim profits to £15.7 million. The stock gives up 5.7% to 420.3p as management warns full-year results will be slightly below expectations.
South East Asian oil explorer Salamander Energy (SMDR) gushes up 6.1% to 125.5p after striking oil with the Surin well in the Gulf of Thailand. The discovery has follow up potential and we looked at the company's prospects in more detail here.
Language translation specialist SDL (SDL) remains in the market's bad books after dismal half-year results. The figures showed an expected £2.3 million slump into the red after June's disastrous profits warning, the latest of several. The shares edge up 6p to 329p, but bigger concerns now are margins halving to 9.4% in its Services arm, 'a major concern,' say analysts at Canaccord, the broker also warning that the £260 million cap's turnaround 'could take longer than expected.'
Microcap eCommerce platform specialist @UK (ATUK:AIM) shoots up over 17% to 12p after issuing an upbeat trading statement. The £10 million cap reveals that cash generation is now sufficient to self-fund its growth plans, easing concerns of a potential dilutive cash call.
Luxury interior furnishings firm Walker Greenbank (WGB:AIM) adds 2.5p at 138p on a strong half-year trading update. Ahead of interim results in October, the £79 million cap, behind the Sanderson, Morris & Co, Harlequin and Zoffany brands, highlights ongoing margin strength and momentum of brand sales and licence income. Read our recent bullish analysis of the investment case here.